The dramatic front page Murray Pioneer headline article with supporting editorial on May 29 had a stunning impact. The coverage has helped to establish this particular tax issue as a serious concern for our regional economy and community, not merely winegrape growers and winemakers. National newspapers are keeping the issue alive with various editorial and opinion articles. The two international wine companies, Treasury Wine Estates and Pernod Ricard, lobbying against the Winemakers Federation (WFA) and the great majority of other peak bodies have revealed more details of their position with an interesting new twist. Up until now the term volumetric tax has been used. In recent days this has been replaced by the term ‘flat tax’ rated at $2.20 per litre or approximately $1.65 per bottle.
Riverland Wine continues to work with other industry bodies to determine what the real impact of adverse tax policy reform will be for this region in terms of the wine industry’s contribution especially to jobs and exports. We are mindful this is likely to be a long campaign. Fatigue is a real issue, one that is often relied upon to wear down opponents. It is important for all growers, winemakers and supporters to know that we will continue to be constructive – maintaining pressure on industry colleagues and key politicians to have the tax policy issues addressed sooner than later. It is imperative for this region’s welfare that the reforms requested by industry prior to the Budget are implemented well in advance of the 2016 vintage.
As previously reported the Hon Josh Frydenberg, the Assistant Treasurer, agreed with the Riverland Wine/WFA delegation in early May that the matter would be fast tracked ahead of the broader Tax White Paper process. We will monitor progress and keep you informed regularly.